This is the first in the continuing series on positive pet parenting, excerpted from my upcoming book.
If you’ve made the decision to pet parent your dog positively, congratulations on your good judgement! Your decision will enhance your relationship with your canine companion and best friend. Afterall, that’s why most people get a companion animal…pet parents want to have a trusting, loving, fun relationship with their new puppy or rescue dog.
In order to communicate effectively with your dog, it’s important to build a foundation of benevolent leadership, good management, and dog-friendly training. Dogs are an unparalleled gift to humankind and to each one of us personally. It’s our job to love them, to care for them, and to teach them. Let’s start with some basic principles.
Laying the Groundwork for Positive Reinforcement Training
Training is a two-sided coin. Behaviors that are rewarded will be repeated. Behaviors that are not rewarded will decrease in frequency and often, eventually disappear.
- Reward the behaviors you would like to see repeated. Rewards may be treats, affection, real-life rewards, toys, or anything your dog likes or wants.
- Don’t inadvertently reward the behaviors you don’t want repeated.
Use these non-aversive techniques:
3. Teach an alternate behavior
4. Remove what your dog wants until you get what you want.
And last but not least, actively look for opportunities to say “Yes”. Pay close attention to your dog’s behaviors, and actively identify and reward the behaviors she/he already does that you find desirable. Consistently reinforced by you, these behaviors will be repeated and become routine, eventually becoming habits.
Please be kind and patient with your dog. True leadership does not dominate, force, intimidate, or employ other aversive techniques that cause fear or stress and damage your relationship with your dog. Effective leadership confidently and calmly teaches your dog how to live happily with people. All relationships thrive on trust, mutual respect, and good communication.
The benefits of good Management are under-rated. Managing a situation rather than trying to change your dog’s behavior is sometimes the easiest answer to a behavior problem for both you and your dog. Removing precious objects that your dog might mistake for chew toys is an example of using management tools. Removing tempting food from the kitchen counter is another example of using management to prevent problems and undesirable habits from developing in the first place. You could spend 10 years trying to teach your dog to stay in the yard and not chase the wildlife he sees in the canyon beyond your property. It would take a great deal of effort and time…and it wouldn’t be reliable — that is if the right rabbit crossed his path, he could be gone. Or, alternately, you could build a fence to solve the problem. Let’s do what’s easiest for both you and your dog!
To be continued…watch for the next lesson from Pet Parenting Positively™ in this series.
Related Article: When and How to Train Your Puppy or New Rescue Dog
Linda Michaels, “Dog Psychologist,” MA, and Victoria Stilwell-licensed Del Mar dog trainer and speaker may be reached at 858.259.WOOF (9663) or by email: LindaMichaelsPositively@gmail.com for private obedience instruction and behavioral consultations near Del Mar and the San Diego Coast. Please visit us atDogPsychologistOnCall.com ©2014LindaMichaels. All rights reserved.